I want to assure you that we have been working hard to make sure that all of our polling stations are COVID-secure. Polling stations will be cleaned regularly throughout the day and there will be a limit to the number of people in the polling station to maintain social distancing, so voters may need to queue. Voters can bring their own pen or pencil. However, pencils will be provided and sanitised between uses. We just ask that you follow the guidance given to you on arrival and wear a face covering (unless medically exempt) in order to keep you and others safe.

Please check your polling station listed on your polling card carefully as this may have changed. Don't worry if you forget your polling card on the day — you can still vote at the correct polling station by giving your name and address. If, on election day, you are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms or you have been told to self-isolate, please don't attend a polling station. Instead, please contact our Elections team on 01243 521010. For more information about the elections, please visit: Current elections .

On Monday 10 May, we will find out if the Government is ready to move towards Step 3 of its roadmap from 17 May. If they give the green light, the Government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible. This means that most legal restrictions on meeting people others outdoors will be lifted — although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoors, the Rule of 6 or two households will apply. I know that many of you will be very pleased about this, especially as we head towards the summer months.

As part of Step 3, most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to open. Indoor hospitality will also reopen, but customers will still have to order, eat and drink while seated. It's also worth reminding you that if you do visit a hospitality venue, every guest has to either scan into the venue using the NHS app or provide their details. This is an important part of the Government's Test and Trace strategy. Other indoor locations will also open including: indoor entertainment venues such as museums, cinemas and children's play areas; the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotel, hostels and B&Bs; and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes.

As you will be aware from our previous district dispatches, we have been working hard to support local businesses to reopen safely and to provide them with the support they need. Over the past year, we have accessed funding from the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund to support us with this work. We are currently in the process of putting together an action plan for Phase 2 of this process through the Government's Welcome Back fund. This is to support the safe return to high streets and to help build back better from the pandemic. We will keep you updated with this work over the coming months.

There is a real feeling of positivity that we are moving back to some sort of normality, but it is really important that we continue to wash or sanitise our hands frequently; wear a face covering in enclosed spaces; and maintain social distancing. Although the vaccination programme is going brilliantly, it's vital that we all continue to take these steps. I would also like to thank again all of the brilliant NHS staff and volunteers who are delivering the vaccination programme. The organisation and co-ordination of the programme has been outstanding.

Thank you for reading my column over the past number of weeks, while we have been in the pre-election period. The Leader of Chichester District Council, Cllr Eileen Lintill, will be back writing this weekly update for you from next week.

Best wishes

Diane Shepherd

Chief Executive